Senator Denny Hoskins’ Capitol Report for the week of April 4, 2022 – Missouri Senate
This week, the Missouri Senate proposed legislation aimed at increasing opportunities for farmers and rural businesses in Missouri. House Bill 1720 contains a number of provisions to support and develop our state’s agricultural industry that I have sponsored as stand-alone legislation this year and in the past. The Senate passed a replacement version of the bill, and this measure will now be sent back to the House for its approval.
The most comprehensive set of agricultural laws introduced in the General Assembly this session, the Senate version of HB 1720 includes the “Missouri Rural Labor Force Development Act,” a measure to encourage the Rural Business Investment which I sponsored separately as Senate Bill 905. the credits established by this program are phased in, with investors only seeing a benefit after jobs are created. The bill also includes incentives to boost the production and use of biodiesel fuels in Missouri. This provision is similar to legislation I introduced this year as Senate Bill 805. House Bill 1720, as amended by the Senate, extends or restarts several other programs that benefit Missouri agricultural producers. The bill renews incentives for next-generation co-ops, meat processing facilities and wood product producers, all measures I sponsored as part of Senate Bill 644. The SB 644 also includes an extension of the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority, or MASBDA. Agriculture is Missouri’s No. 1 industry, and it’s important that the legislature keep these important incentive programs in place.
Another House bill advanced this week is similar to the legislation I introduced, but differs in one key respect. I have argued for several years that Missourians should be able to legally bet on the outcome of sports events, and this year I introduced Senate Bill 643 to legalize sports betting in our state. My bill has been heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but another sports betting proposal, House Bill 2502, is further along in the legislative process. My law imposes a 21% tax on casinos offering sports betting. This is the same percentage they currently pay on slots and table games. The House bill caps the state tax share of sports betting at 8%. I’m sure you can guess which bill the sports betting industry supports.
In my view, there is a clear difference between my law and the House bill. This difference is $153 million. This is the difference between the financial ratings of the two bills. The House bill is expected to generate $10 million a year in state revenue, while my bill is expected to contribute $163 million. I put it this way: if we think casinos need to make more money, we should support the House bill. If we’d rather see that money go to Missouri schools, we should pass my bill. There is strong pressure to bring sports betting to Missouri. I just think if we’re going to do it, the state should benefit. Hopefully, as these bills move through the Legislature, we can find a compromise that tilts the outcome in favor of Missouri school children over casino operators.
With the session nearing the end and the weather becoming favorable for travel, we have seen a steady increase in the number of visitors to my Capitol office. This week, I had the pleasure of meeting with several groups of constituents who stopped by to discuss pending bills and issues important to them. Among the visitors to the district this week were Burns and McDonnell International President Michael Brown and Senior Vice President Ron Coker who came to talk about economic development. Other visitors included Stephany Bening of Raymore who shared her concerns about distracted driving and the fatal and destructive impact it has on the citizens of Missouri. I have also had the pleasure of welcoming delegations representing various groups of young people and citizens. Members of the Chillicothe FFA Chapter were among many young people in blue corduroy jackets who filled the halls of the Capitol as part of Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day. Students from the Carrollton R-VII School District were also on Capitol Hill as part of a career development conference as part of the Job for America’s Graduates program. Finally, I had the honor of introducing the Chillicothe firefighters in the Senate chamber. These brave first responders were here for the 50th anniversary of the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.
Not many weeks left to see the Legislative Assembly in action this year. The 2022 session is scheduled to end on May 13, and the last day senators are allowed to bring guests into the chamber is April 28. If you’re planning on driving to Jefferson City to watch the proceedings, you’ll want to do that soon. I enjoy meeting locals and encourage everyone to drop by my office when they’re at the Capitol.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You can also email me at [email protected]